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Nica Graham and her son, Wendell Moore, 8, of Santa Fe try to cool off Friday in the Santa Fe River. Santa Fe tied its high-temperature record Monday, part of a heat wave enveloping the West. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Monday was downright infernal in Santa Fe.

The thermometer at the Santa Fe Regional Airport reached a high of 102 degrees, tying a record the city has reached only twice before — on June 27, 2013, and June 19, 2016.

The good news? According to forecasters, the area soon is likely to return to less beastly conditions, hovering in the 94- or 95-degree range for the rest of the week.

The bad news? Even the mid-90s are still 10 to 15 degrees higher than the average for this time of year.

And it’s not just Santa Fe that is going to roast a little. National weather reports indicate much of the West is going to be enveloped with record highs as a heat wave moves through the region.

Call it the new normal, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said during a virtual media presentation Monday.

“It seems like we’re seeing more and more record temperatures in western and central New Mexico,” said meteorologist Todd Shoemake.

Climate change, he said, is the main cause.

In New Mexico, a slow moving high-level pressure system is adding to the stress, leading to new or tied record highs around the state. Albuquerque hit 100 degrees Sunday, which tied with the previous record set in 1956. It was 101 Sunday in Farmington, where the previous mark was 97 in 2018.

Expect it to stay hot statewide for up to two more weeks.

“Unfortunately it does not look like this is going to end anytime soon,” said meteorologist Daniel Porter with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

The monsoon in the state officially begins Tuesday, but forecasters warn not to expect any immediate help, with the forecast for precipitation looking dim.

However, it’s possible a thunderstorm or two may bring a bit of rain over the weekend.

Beyond that, an online analysis on the 2021 monsoon by the National Weather Service reports “near-average precipitation during July, August, September is getting harder to come by in New Mexico.”

The combination of hot, dry conditions and potential dry lightning strikes will only increase the potential for wildfires, Shoemake said.

New Mexico firefighters are battling at least five active blazes, including the Rincon Fire, which was caused by lightning, in the Pecos Wilderness.

State meteorologists are urging residents to do what they can to alleviate the effects of heat stress and avoid heat-related illnesses. They urge people to stay in as often as possible, drink a lot of water and wear loose-fitting clothing. Pets and vehicles do not mix.

“Check in on the elderly, children, family members who might succumb to the heat impacts,” said weather service meteorologist Scott Overpeck .

Bianca Garcia of Santa Fe said she tries to follow all those guidelines. She made it a point to take her two children — 3-year-old Thaddeus and 9-month-old Gideon — out on a morning jaunt just off Jaguar Drive before the day got too hot.

“I got out as early as I can to avoid the really hot weather,” she said as Thaddeus tooled about on his bicycle.

She’s cut the family’s outdoor exercise regime in half because of the heat. Usually they go out for an hour or longer. Now, it’s 30 minutes or less.

Instead, Garcia said she looks for ways to engage in “high-level octane activities” indoors.

Having a “swamp cooler” in their home helps, she said.

She’s also aware of the heat’s impact on the family dog, Bonnie. The pavement under the dog’s bare paws can “burn her feet,” she said as the family paused in the shade of a tree to talk.

She wasn’t the only one taking advantage of morning temperatures Monday. At the Herb Martinez Park on Camino Carlos Ray, Isaac Toboggin and Jennifer Higginbotham-Toboggin, both special-education teachers in local public schools, played Frisbee in a semi-shaded area of the park in the late morning. They and their dog, Hildegard, now exercise before noon.

They had plenty of water and wore hats, sunscreen and loose-fitting clothes. They also maintained a lookout for their pets, keeping Hildegard in the shade with water nearby.

They even filled a container with ice for their chicken to cool down in its coop.

The heat leads them to check the weather outlook first thing every morning, Isaac Toboggin said. Then they ask: “What can we do today?”

“We do not take unnecessary chances in the heat of the day,” he said.

Like the state’s meteorologists, Toboggin said people can’t just see this weather trend as a temporary heat wave that will come and go.

“Our planet is going to heat up,” he said.

For Alex Gutierrez, a plasterer working on the construction of the multistory La Secoya de El Castillo retirement community, the idea that temperatures could top 100 degrees was disheartening.

Looking up at the top floor of the site, one thought crossed his mind as he contemplated the notion.

“It probably can be sort of hell,” he said.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(2) comments

Stefanie Beninato

I believe that on average Santa Fe has 5 90 plus degree days in June. I believe it was in 2014 that there were 12 90 plus degree days.

Jason Evans

And people are willing to pay $300/sq ft for homes with no A/C. These temps are the new normal. Swamp coolers need to be shut off with smoke from surrounding fires. Can't imagine having a unit on the third floor.

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